Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Making Jacob's Ladder with Chocolate Bars

I've had this toy for quite some time, which is called "Jacob's Ladder." I have probably had it for at least 20 years, but I dug it out of cabinet before school started this year, and it's just the sort of thing kids come and play with before class. It's very "touchy-feely" and counterintuitive as to how it works...put those two things together and BAM! Fun class project!

Jacob's ladder from Wikipedia:

One year, many years ago, a student asked if they could make one when I gave them a very open-ended project - and he did--just by looking at my toy. So this year, I decided to have it become part of my Honors Problem-Solving Seminar, though I think it would be a great thing to do for any class before a holiday break.

I thought it would be easier to Google for instructions, and lo and behold, my favorite things all mashed together came up: something you can eat, play with, and in some sense, involves math (or problem-solving!)  Here's the site I found:

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO SEE THE INSTRUCTIONS! (This summer I hope to make up my own instructions and video)

Kit Kats were recommended, but they were super expensive, so I chose Ghirardelli chocolates because they were on sale at Target. However, I realized after that we had to tape back their extra edges.

The finished product!

What I would do differently next time:
--find chocolates that are more rectangular and inexpensive
--use the same color ribbon that is on the website because we kept getting confused as to which was which
--use thinner ribbons...those students who used thick ones did not come out as good.

AND--this is very important! Make sure you have extra chocolate for the kids to eat before hand, or else they will want to eat their candy! My students really enjoyed this activity, and they said they would make nice stocking stuffers for little kids.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Making your own Ted-Ed lessons to introduce a topic or for remediation

I never knew how easy it was to create a lesson using the Ted-Ed interface until I had to do one as an assignment as a Ted-Ed Innovative Educator. For homework, I had to make up a lesson on anything I wanted to. The first one I created was about the Monty Hall Problem. I uploaded the video from the movie 21 and then easily added multiple choice and open-ended questions. There was even a place to input the time of the video that students could go back to rewatch as they were answering a question. 
Here is my Ted-Ed Lesson on the Monty Hall Problem - click on the link to the left, as below it's only a picture.

Here is how you build a lesson - it is super easy!

  • Go to http://ed.ted.com/lessons and create a username and password.
  • Click on "Create a Lesson"
  • Paste in a video url that is already on the web or one you made and uploaded to YouTube.
  • Tell what the video is about in the area that says "Let's Begin"
  • Enter questions in the Think category (multiple choice or free response).
  • Under Dig Deeper, you can add links that you want students to investigate further
  • Under Discuss, you can add a question that is open-ended that all will answer (note: here, everyone can see everyone else's answers and students will have 15 minutes to edit.)
  • Under ...And Finally, you can add whatever you would like. For 21, I added an extra question that was an extension to the Monty Hall Problem. 
You can choose to exclude any of the categories as well. 

I have a student who needed community service hours for math club, so I had her show how to solve a synthetic division problem with complex numbers on Explain Everything, and I assigned it as a Ted-Ed Lesson to my students. They really liked it, and they did really well on their quiz, so I am happy they had the lesson to refer back to as necessary. Here is the link to the lesson below. 

Finally, you may want to look through the Ted-Ed lessons yourself, as you can use one and tailor it to your needs. 

Please share if you have created a Ted-Ed lesson!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Ted-Ed River-Crossing Riddle

Yesterday, a new Ted-Ed River-Crossing Riddle came out. Here is what it looks like, below, on the Ted-Ed site.

If you've not seen Ted-Ed riddles, you are in for a treat. I've written about them here and here and here. This is the second Ted-Ed riddle that I've worked with Ted-Ed to create. It's been so much fun, and the kids love working on them. I love that anyone can customize a Ted-Ed lessons. I will blog very soon about how to customize a lesson, as I just did one and assigned it for homework. It was super easy. For now, enjoy the riddle!